Author Topic: Is leoparding a cue for quality?  (Read 2626 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11626
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2013, 08:22:01 AM »
Most pizzaioli will tell you its just the result of cold dough.

I believe that certainly can contribute to a certain type of spotting, but cold alone does little to explain the wide variety of size, topology, and distribution seen.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.


Mal

  • Guest
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2013, 07:20:11 PM »
Craig, taking your particular method of pizza-making as a basis (as explained on your thread) would you say a pizza which did not exhibit leopard spots to be indicative of a poor quality result and if so what aspects would you expect to be deficient (flavour, texture etc.)?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 07:23:16 PM by Mal »

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11626
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2013, 01:43:05 PM »
Craig, taking your particular method of pizza-making as a basis (as explained on your thread) would you say a pizza which did not exhibit leopard spots to be indicative of a poor quality result and if so what aspects would you expect to be deficient (flavour, texture etc.)?


It would clearly be indicative of not achieving the desired result, so to that end, it would be considered poor quality by definition. Other quality criteria are more subjective.

I probably wouldn't use the word "indicative" in the way I think you intended. A lack of leoparding wouldn't necessarily indicate a poor quality result in terms of eating quality. Rather, I think it would suggest places where there were variations from the formula or procedure that might affect the typically considered quality attributes. For example, it might suggest that fermentation temperature was not ideally matched to the culture and the size and distribution of the bubbles was affected. It might suggest the oven was not hot enough or the heat was not adequately balanced. It might indicate a different flour was used or the dough was not ideally developed. I'm sure you don't need me to speculate on how these might affect flavor, texture or other eating qualities.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline f.montoya

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 329
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Land of the Rising Sun
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2013, 09:32:53 PM »
Craig, taking your particular method of pizza-making as a basis (as explained on your thread) would you say a pizza which did not exhibit leopard spots to be indicative of a poor quality result and if so what aspects would you expect to be deficient (flavour, texture etc.)?


I know I'm not Craig, but I'd like to answer this question quite directly...

The mistakes I have made with my attempts at Neapolitan Pizza are more recent than any of Craig's so I can easily remember the differences between a pie that exhibited leoparding and ones that didn't. When I finally started to get in the ballpark with my dough recipes, dough handling and oven management, the leoparding magically appeared. The pies that had no leoparding were a little crustier browned and the flavor, while good in its own way, was like that of toasted flour. The texture wasn't that different but it was slightly chewier. You can see it clearly in some of my earlier videos. When the leorparding began to appear in earnest, the outer rims of my pies started to fluff more and the ones that baked perfectly, without overcharring, lost that "toasted flour" flavor and was replaced by a simple wheat-like aroma and a super delicate edge that you could gently tear to eat, rather than have to slice.

That said, I would like to see if anyone can produce something like that without the leoparding showing up.


However, just because a pizza has leoparding does not mean it is a great pizza. I had a batch that baked really well, but to my horror, I forgot to add salt! I suppose you can attain good appearance results with low quality ingredients(flour, water, yeast, salt) too but that is a whole other way to look at the "quality" discussion. But as an "indicator" of quality, where Neapolitan pizza is concerned, I'd have to say that it's impossible to attain anything of high quality without leoparding.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 09:38:59 PM by f.montoya »

Mal

  • Guest
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2013, 09:42:16 PM »
Thank you Craig and f.montoya for your replies.

@f.montoya
Would you say that in your experience that temperature/bake time played a key factor in achieving that different texture/flavor? (And leopard spots of course).

edit: by "key factor" I mean the differential between brown/chewier/toasty-flour and wheat-like/tender/leopard-spotted
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 09:51:39 PM by Mal »

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6968
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2013, 11:15:26 PM »
The prescence of leoparding alone also doesn't necessarily indicate that the crust couldn't be improved upon.  Had some VPN NP this weekend and while the crust had leoparding it was on the dry, slightly dense and chewy side.  Not what I would call perfection.  Pies were still good though.

Offline f.montoya

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 329
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Land of the Rising Sun
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2013, 03:58:20 AM »
Thank you Craig and f.montoya for your replies.

@f.montoya
Would you say that in your experience that temperature/bake time played a key factor in achieving that different texture/flavor? (And leopard spots of course).

edit: by "key factor" I mean the differential between brown/chewier/toasty-flour and wheat-like/tender/leopard-spotted

If by that you mean was it the missing factor for me finally achieving "wheat-like/tender/leopard-spotted", as in "anyone can get wheat-like/tender/leopard spots as long as they have high heat" then the answer is no.

I've had my WFO only since late October last year but my pie total is now at roughly 360 in just six months. I had the temps and the bake times pretty early on but was getting more browning and larger black charring and chewier than I get nowadays. A lot had to do with how much I worked the dough and how I fermented it. I have always been a fan of longer fermentation times but realized that using a very tiny amount of yeast, instead of the amount I had been accustomed to using, made a bigger difference in tenderness, along with just allowing the gluten to develop more on its own rather than me overworking it.

So while you can't achieve leoparding without the right temp range, you can't say that it is the key factor in producing leoparding, and more importantly texture and tenderness, either.

Offline f.montoya

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 329
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Land of the Rising Sun
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2013, 06:39:15 AM »
The prescence of leoparding alone also doesn't necessarily indicate that the crust couldn't be improved upon.  Had some VPN NP this weekend and while the crust had leoparding it was on the dry, slightly dense and chewy side.  Not what I would call perfection.  Pies were still good though.


I had a guy over for one of my pizza parties a few weeks back and, to my surprise, he brought four doughballs and a little tupperware full of cheese curds. I asked him if he had made the dough himself and he laughed and said no. About 7 years ago he worked and made pizzas in Sakuragumi(you can see images of their latest pies here), which is a super-overpriced AVPN place here in the town I live in. He has remained good friends with the owner and told the owner he was going to a pizza party, to which the owner insisted he take some dough and cheese. Well after the kids were off happily playing with full bellies of pies from my dough recipe, I asked this guy to go ahead and make something "Sakuragumi" for us. He obliged and, with pretty good skills, slapped out a couple of doughballs, topped them with stuff he brought from Sakuragumi and launched them into the oven. Again, with pretty good skills and seemingly not much rust given 7 years away from pizza making, he rotated and finished the pies. The result? Dry, slightly dense, chewy and way too salty for my taste. Leoparding was almost non-existent, which is in contrast to your photos of similarly inferior, yet well leoparded, pies. What restaurant was that, if I may ask?

I think that, generally speaking, establishments go with a much less hydrated dough than most of us do, what Craig uses and recommends, and what is done is some of the better places found in Naples, like Da Michele( I can only suspect a hydration of at least 60% judging by the videos I've seen).  This could explain the dryness. But I think that the pies in your photos look to me like they had an insufficient amount of yeast and were not handled well during the latter stages and possibly the stretching of the dough as well. I can achieve something like that if I use a well prepared dough at a lower 55% or 56% hydration, but with a shorter fermentation time, balled tightly and slightly cold(had a couple of experiments turn out this way back in December). Then, instead of pushing the air toward the outer rim, I push actual dough to the outer rim, so the puffiness is an illusion and can be directly attributed to the ratio of dough that's in the rim, as opposed to the amount of dough in the center of the pie. Leoparding? Yes. Good dough? Absolutely in the ballpark. Prepared correctly? No. Tasted good? Yes, but left a lot to be desired as far as NP goes.

The best way I can summarize is that to achieve leoparding is an indicator that the one has reached a quality "milestone" in terms of the ultimate Neapolitan dough and resulting crust. From there, it's up to the individual pizzaiolo if he/she wants to improve any further or achieve a specific flavor, aroma, texture, etc..

The way that I look at it is, if you achieve a beautiful pie that looks anything like the one on the front of the Caputo bag of flour, you've reached the Major Leagues of what can be considered Real Neapolitan Pizza. I mean A LOT had to line up and go right, just to get to that point. But once you're there, a whole new standard of "quality" gets applied. Now that you've reached the Major leagues, do you wanna bat .200 and be satisfied? That is up to you. If I were TXCraig1, with the experience he has, I would say, "show me your leoparded pie first, then tell me what's wrong with it, from a flavor/texture standpoint, and we'll go from there!"


« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 06:46:56 AM by f.montoya »

Mal

  • Guest
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2013, 08:44:48 AM »
If by that you mean was it the missing factor for me finally achieving "wheat-like/tender/leopard-spotted", as in "anyone can get wheat-like/tender/leopard spots as long as they have high heat" then the answer is no.

I've had my WFO only since late October last year but my pie total is now at roughly 360 in just six months. I had the temps and the bake times pretty early on but was getting more browning and larger black charring and chewier than I get nowadays. A lot had to do with how much I worked the dough and how I fermented it. I have always been a fan of longer fermentation times but realized that using a very tiny amount of yeast, instead of the amount I had been accustomed to using, made a bigger difference in tenderness, along with just allowing the gluten to develop more on its own rather than me overworking it.

So while you can't achieve leoparding without the right temp range, you can't say that it is the key factor in producing leoparding, and more importantly texture and tenderness, either.

That is extremely interesting. I mentioned the temperature because it's the only factor that I don't have much control over in a non-WFO. A few months ago I did an experiment with the mixing/handling of the dough.Side by side - intensely kneaded dough and one which was minimally mixed and folded a couple of times over an hour or so. Both were using v. small yeast and bulk fermented for a little over 20 hours (room temperature which admittedly was quite low at the time). When it came to baking, they behaved identically. The final pizzas had the same texture, appearance and taste. In a blind test I would not have been able to tell the difference. What was noticeably absent was any leopard spots. Which is why I posited temperature as a key factor.

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11626
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2013, 09:27:46 AM »
I mean A LOT had to line up and go right, just to get to that point. But once you're there, a whole new standard of "quality" gets applied. Now that you've reached the Major leagues, do you wanna bat .200 and be satisfied? That is up to you.

I agree with your overall point, but I think I would say it a little differently. I'm not sure that a different standard of quality is applied. Rather, it's the difference between good and great. It takes a certain set of skills to get to good. However, advancing to great may require more than just fine tuning what you have been doing. It may require a whole new attention to detail.

You're right that a lot of things have to line up to bake a good pie. But it's not as difficult as is sounds when you say a lot of things have to line up. This is simply getting all the basic elements right. Yes, there are a lot of things that have to be done right, but they are the big obvious things. Going from good to great requires paying attention to all the little ,less than obvious details - many of which may initially sound meaningless. Someone noted yesterday that they didn't know a dough ball had a top and a bottom. Things like that are easy to overlook and not understand the importance, but they are important.

It's kind of like golf. Give Tiger Woods the crappiest old set of used clubs you can find at a yard sale and give me the most technologically advanced clubs that are perfectly fitted to me, and he will still beat me like a scored woman on her cheating husband. However, have Tiger play Rory McIlroy with that same tired set of clubs awhile Rory plays with the best equipment; now it makes a difference. Now the little details - things that you might not even notice unless you look closely - matter a lot.

Big things get you to good. The little things matter at the margin between good and great.

I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.


Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11626
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2013, 09:34:50 AM »
So while you can't achieve leoparding without the right temp range, you can't say that it is the key factor in producing leoparding, and more importantly texture and tenderness, either.

I have to disagree with part of this. Temperature is the key factor in leoparding because you can not produce leoparding without suitably high temperature. Other things are required to make it happen, but I suspect that all of them can be accomplished by more than one means. There is no substitute for high temperature.


I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline f.montoya

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 329
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Land of the Rising Sun
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2013, 10:25:46 AM »
I have to disagree with part of this. Temperature is the key factor in leoparding because you can not produce leoparding without suitably high temperature. Other things are required to make it happen, but I suspect that all of them can be accomplished by more than one means. There is no substitute for high temperature.

I will respectfully disagree. I hold to the belief that heat is a key factor for producing leoparding, but it wasn'tTHE key factor, in my experience...and certainly not THE key factor for producing flavor, aroma and texture. Heck, I've produced leoparding with a frying pan and a Japanese BBQ torch. But I guess a lot depends on where one is at before they reach something close to their goal. Was it the cheese? Did the dough need more time? Was my oven not hot enough? All questions to ponder on the journey to one's idea of perfection. In my case it was the dough and what I expressed above.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 10:35:10 AM by f.montoya »

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11626
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2013, 10:27:23 AM »
I'll throw this out there for consideration with respect to temperature. I had previously posted this in a different thread (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,23321.msg236761.html#msg236761)

I believe that leoparding likely has more to do with 1) the proper distribution of bubbles in the dough, 2) the strength of the dough and its ability to contain the gas in small bubbles near the surface long enough for a bubble to expand past the surface and char, and 3) sufficient heat to push out the bubble before the surface becomes too hard for it to happen.

My guess is that there is some critical size and location that causes certain bubbles to become leopard spots when certain other conditions are met. We know that fermentation time affects the crumb structure with rapid rise times often resulting in tighter crumbs. It would not surprise me if one of the reasons longer fermentation favors leoparding is because it produces the necessary bubble structure. After a longer fermentation (I donít know what this time is exactly, but itís more than a couple hours), bubbles of different sizes are fairly evenly distributed throughout the dough.  You can see this looking at the bottom of a dough ball in a clear plastic container. It canít be that every bubble near the surface can become a spot, or the entire surface would erupt. Which particular bubbles become spots must be the result of multiple factors such as size, location, dough strength, and temperature such that only certain bubbles of a similar type become spots. My experience with my own pies and my recollection from pictures of other pies seem to support this - the spots are generally similar in size on a given pie. Pies with the micro spots donít tend to also have a lot of large spots and vice versa.

I think the second factor is that the dough needs to be developed enough that there is sufficient strength to maintain the bubble past the surface of the dough. However, as dough continues to age, at some point it starts to weaken.  I think we tend to see the larger, more pronounced spots in some longer fermented dough because the dough surface weakens and it is easier for the bubbles to expand.  5Stagioni is a stronger flour than Caputo, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms it is more difficult to get larger spots out of it AOTBE. If the dough becomes too weak, I believe it also negatively impacts the texture of the crumb Ė perhaps this is the correlation that lead Marco to believe large spots is an indicator of a ďdefectiveĒ dough?

Lastly, I think you only get the spots with very high temperatures because you need to get these key bubbles expanding fast enough that they can push past the dough surface before the surface hardens to a point that they can no longer push out. Iím guessing that at temperatures below 750F or so, the surface of the dough hardens before enough pressure is generated inside the critical bubbles.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline La Sera

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 135
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2013, 10:30:48 AM »
My experience puts me in the camp that temperature is the common thread to leoparding, regardless of dough. I think 370įC is about the minimum temperature to get what I'll call "good-looking leoparding." It just doesn't happen below about 350įC.

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11626
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2013, 10:37:44 AM »
I will respectfully disagree. I hold to the belief that heat is a key factor for producing leoparding, but not THE key factor, in my experience...

We my just be arguing semantics here. When I say heat is the key factor, I'm by no means implying that it is the only factor. I'm simply saying that leoparding is not possible without sufficient heat while the rest of the contributing condition may be a subset of various other factors. Heat is the one and only factor that has no substitute.

and certainly not THE key factor for producing flavor, aroma and texture.

I generally agree with respect to flavor and aroma, but not so much with texture (assuming tenderness is a component of texture and not a stand-alone attribute). You can do things with heat that I don't know how you could replicate with other elements. I don't know how you could recreate the texture/tenderness of a sub-60 second pie (while maintaining all the other requirements of great NP) without sufficient heat.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline f.montoya

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 329
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Land of the Rising Sun
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2013, 10:53:22 AM »
Just to keep things in perspective, the question I was replying to was...
Quote
@f.montoya
Would you say that in your experience that temperature/bake time played a key factor in achieving that different texture/flavor? (And leopard spots of course).

edit: by "key factor" I mean the differential between brown/chewier/toasty-flour and wheat-like/tender/leopard-spotted

In MY experience, temperature was not the issue. WFO and 900+ degrees did not convert my doughs into magically puffy, tender, moist and leoparded edges with a wonderfully wheaty aroma and sweetness. My dough just did not match what I was trying to accomplish. I've also seen plenty of youtube vids of individuals who have a WFO and got the temp right but got the coals and fire in a U shape facing the door, causing all sorts of baking issues that I'm sure you can imagine and not producing any leoparding at all.

Wood fire and 800f+ is a necessary ingredient, just as much as flour, water, yeast, time and skill are, with respect to producing leoparding. But the KEY is never the same with everyone. The key is always something you have been overlooking.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 10:55:06 AM by f.montoya »

Offline f.montoya

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 329
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Land of the Rising Sun
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2013, 11:11:52 AM »


You're right that a lot of things have to line up to bake a good pie. But it's not as difficult as is sounds when you say a lot of things have to line up. This is simply getting all the basic elements right. Yes, there are a lot of things that have to be done right, but they are the big obvious things.

I agree 110% with this. It can be like riding a bike. You gotta remember to move your left foot, then your right, then repeat, holding the handlebars firmly while steering your bike where it is you want to go. The first time we ride a bike as a child can be intimidating but we soon learn it is simple, and many things become automatic and part of second nature. I have a ways to go but I certainly have learned plenty of aspects of pizza making in the past 10 years that I now take for granted and even more from the likes of Craig and others that I will one day think of as going without saying.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 11:18:17 AM by f.montoya »

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6968
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #37 on: May 06, 2013, 02:53:37 PM »
Good discussion here.  Just wanted to add a few cents to the discussion.  High heat is definitely one factor but how high is the question.   I've seen leoparding around 750F and above but not below.  But I have also had pies not leopard at all at a floor temp of 900F. 

Another factor that can affect leoparding is the source of yeast.  I've seen leoparding in doughs made with starters but not IDY or ADY.  But then again there are members who have gotten tons of leoparding with IDY or ADY.   I've seen different patterns of leoparding in similarly made doughs where the only difference was the source of yeast, starter vs Cake Yeast.  CY having a more even spread of small spots and starter doughs having more variation in the size of the spots. 

More to the mystery.  I've made a NP pie with caputo 00 using IDY baked at 900F that had zero leoparding but IMO had exceedingly better texture than several NP joints that had appropriate leoparding on the rim.  So yes, leoparding can indicate NP at it's finest but not necessarily a requirement for me at this point in time.  I'm sure I will change my mind at some point.  But leoparding is a mystery for sure. 

Offline La Sera

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 135
Re: Is leoparding a cue for quality?
« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2013, 08:15:31 PM »
"I've made a NP pie with caputo 00 using IDY baked at 900F that had zero leoparding" --Jackie Tran

Did you chant the magic words while turning the pizza?  ;D


 

pizzapan